Sip City: Mumbai’s Best Bars
We’ll say it outright. Our list of the city’s best bars is bound to be contentious. As with any best-of list, it’s subjective. This selection is based on both the site’s editors’ and crowd favourites that check all the right boxes for a fun night out: great drink, food, music, crowd and that hard-to-describe intangible called vibe. We’ve deliberately left out dives and nightclubs, two types of establishments on opposite ends of the price spectrum that deserve their own lists. We’ve also slotted for convenience, the different kinds of experiences these bars offer. They’re the main, but not only, reason we keep going back to these joints.
BEST FOR A BREW
The robust stout aka the Black Mamba and the house special calamari-soaked in a garlic and white wine sauce are worth encores at the Andheri brewpub that serves first-rate comfort food with well-balanced brews.
Ground Floor, Morya Landmark 1, off New Link Road, Andheri (West). Tel: 022 3969 8091. Open daily, from noon to 1am.
Tipplers with a sweet tooth will approve of Doolally’s apple cider, while hop lovers will enjoy their bitter IPA. When they’re in stock, don’t miss their smokey, bacon-y rauchbier or the creamy oatmeal stout. As you drink, line your tummy with their stellar fried Bombay Duck and chicken ghee roast.
Shop No.5/6, Geleki, ONGC Colony, Bandra Reclamation, Bandra (West). Tel: 98205 70311. C18-21, Dalia Industrial Estate, near Fun Republic cinema, off New Link Road, Andheri (West). Tel: 99671 02143. Open daily, from 7am to 1am.
The Beer Cafe
It may be a chain of theme bars but it sure takes its theme seriously. With an ever-growing list of brews from across the world – at last count they had over 50 – they have everything from the ubiquitous Kingfisher to the elusive Guinness here.
Ground Floor, Mili Co-operative Housing Society, T. H. Kataria Road, same lane as Goa Portuguesa, Mahim. Tel: 022 6888 8105. Eros Cinema building, Churchgate. Tel: 022 6615 3510. Hotel Kings Palace, near McDonald’s, Linking Road, Khar. Tel: 022 6503 3322. T2, International Airport, opposite Gate No.1, Andheri (East). Tel: 82861 05608. See here for other locations. Open daily, from noon to 11pm.
The Irish House
If your idea of a good time is putting away pitchers of beer while humming chart hits, this is your kind of place. The six outposts of this chain of bars popular with the after-work drinking crowd are roomy and always lively with at least a couple of tables opting for the two- and three-litre kegs of draught.
High Street Phoenix, Senapati Bapat Marg, Lower Parel. Tel: 022 4347 1111. Above Royal Oak Banquets, 30 K. Dubash Marg, Kala Ghoda. Tel: 88980 58856. Second Floor, Inorbit Mall, Link Road, Malad (West). Gasper Enclave, Pali Naka, Bandra (West). Tel: 022 2640 0166. For other locations, see here. Open daily, from noon to 1am.
The White Owl
The Lower Parel brewpub is as popular with South Mumbai tipplers as the two outposts of the Doolally Taproom in Bandra and Andheri are with the suburban crowd. They typically have between six and eight house brews on tap including the Diablo, a well-balanced Irish red ale and Shadow a chocolate-y English Porter. Owing to its location within the One India Bulls Center, The White Owl is also a bustling lunch spot that serves European and American nosh.
One India Bulls Center, Tower 2 Lobby, Senapati Bapat Marg, Lower Parel. Tel: 022 2421 0231. Open daily, from noon to 1.30am.
The laid-back vibe and alternative rock soundtrack at this Colaba institution make it the quintessential neighbourhood pub. Among the menu’s many hits are the four cheese pizza and the burgers, which they pair with beers (including craft brews by the Gateway Brewing Co. and Independence Brewing Co.) in a much-loved month-long festival every year.
Opposite Regal Cinema, Wodehouse Road, Colaba. Tel: 022 2287 5752. New Link Plaza, next to Oshiwara Police Station, Oshiwara, Andheri (West). Tel: 022 2632 8963. Open daily, from 11.30am to 1am.
BEST FOR A VIEW
The cocktail prices are as stratospheric as the location, on the thirty-fourth floor of the Four Seasons, but the panoramic setting and late-night licence make it a favourite with Mumbai’s high rollers. Wherever you sit, you can get a bird’s eye view of why they call this the city that never sleeps.
34th Floor, Four Seasons Hotel, Dr. E. Moses Road, Worli. Tel: 022 3312 6112. Open daily, from 5pm to 1.30am.
From Asilo’s lofty perch on the thirty-eighth floor of the St. Regis hotel you can see central Mumbai sparkling on one side and a portion of the Sea Link on the other. The all-white lounge hosts monthly themed parties such as ‘after dark’, ‘pop’ and ‘couture cabana’ nights that attract the swish set.
Level 38, St. Regis, near Palladium mall, Lower Parel. Tel: 022 6162 8031. Open daily, from 5pm to 1.30am.
Hidden like a gem atop the rooftop of a budget hotel in in the same line as the Taj, this bar offers an expansive view of the harbour (you can spot the Gateway in the distance) and, at least during some hours, the kind of relative quiet that’s hard to find in our bustling city.
Sea Palace Hotel, P. J. Ramchandani Marg, Apollo Bunder, Colaba. Tel: 022 6112 8000. Open daily, from 5pm to 1.30am.
This terrace bar with old-fashioned wrought iron furniture and white pillars festooned with fairy lights is rarely crowded and a great place to knock back gin and tonics and cheese toast. It offers a splendid view of Colaba’s rooftops on one side and the bay on the other, even in the monsoon when it’s sheltered by a temporary roof.
Hotel Godwin, 41 Garden Road, in the lane opposite Cusrow Baug, Colaba. Tel: 022 2287 2050. Open daily, from 5pm to midnight.
The rooftop bar on Marine Drive offers one of the best views of the Queen’s Necklace, the string of streetlights that line the promenade. The well-executed cocktails help provide a high to match the altitude.
InterContinental Hotel, 135 Marine Drive, Churchgate. Tel: 022 3987 9999. Open daily, from 5pm to 1.30am.
The plastic chairs and tables are indication that this bar in a budget hotel is pretty basic when it comes to F&B. But the terrace location, which offers an enviable view of the Sea Link when it’s lit up, has made it one of Bandra’s best-kept secrets. Pity it’s not open through the monsoon.
Hotel Rangsharda, near Lilavati Hospital, Bandra Reclamation, Bandra (West). Tel: 022 2640 1919. From October to June: Open daily, from 7pm to midnight.
BEST FOR A COCKTAIL
This Colaba fine-dining restaurant gained a following for its food but it would be foolish to visit and not order the excellent cocktails. Almost all of the house specials are worth trying but we request repeats of the Churchgate (white rum, tamarind, jaggery, Earl Grey) and Old Maid (vodka, lime, mint, cucumber).
Amarchand Mansion, 16 Madame Cama Road, Colaba. Tel: 022 6621 3333. Open daily, from noon to 3pm and from 7pm to 1am.
Please Don’t Tell or PDT does some toothsome, if pricey, cocktails. Get the citrusy Arctic Fire, Secrets of the Sea (a combo of rum, lemon liqueur and orange peel) and The Disguised Veteran, their version of the Old Fashioned.
Kamala Mills Compound, Pandurang Budhkar Marg, Lower Parel. Tel: 022 2490 0738. Open daily, from 6pm to 1.30am.
The Daily Bar and Kitchen
Creative cocktails drive people to this Bandra bar where bartenders assemble their elaborate molecular concoctions and pre-Prohibition tipples fairly speedily to the house music being played on one of their DJ nights. For a spot of drama, order the Gypsy Queen, a whisky, cinnamon, clove and peach blend smoked with apple wood, or the Oriental Passion, made using vodka, basil, passion fruit, kaffir lime and dry ice.
Behind Shopper’s Stop, below Suburbia, S. V. Road, Bandra (West). Tel: 99204 46633. Open daily, from 6.30pm to 1.30am.
This bar, owned by the same folks behind Soul Fry in Bandra, is also known for its karaoke nights and Goan grub. Along with the best choriz pao in the city, it serves tangy tipples made with local ingredients such as the Masala Soda Fizz and the Kokum High. You need a password to enter, which can easily be acquired by following their Facebook page.
111A, Currimjee Building, opposite Mumbai University, near Allana Centre, M. G. Road, Fort. Tel: 99302 44326. Open daily, from 6.30pm to 1am.
Inside the lair-like Art Deco interiors of MasalaBar, illuminated only by candlelight, you might not be able to clearly read the illustrated explanations behind the signature preparations of its in-house cocktail ‘lab’. Fortunately, their flavours shine through. Thandai fans will trip on the Bollywood Bhang; whisky sour drinkers the [email protected], and those who like their cocktails sweet the almost mithai-like Mumbai Matinee.
First Floor, Gagangiri Apartments, above Cafe Coffee Day, Carter Road, Bandra (West). Tel: 022 6770 1793. Open Tuesday to Sunday, from 5pm to 1.30am; Monday, closed.
Wink at Vivanta by Taj President
Here you will find the city’s best martinis branded as Winktinis. Our picks are the dangerously smooth Grass infused with lemongrass, ginger and curry leaves and the potent Wasabi martini. The striking geometrical bar filled with filigree screens is the work of the Japanese design firm Super Potato that boasts clients such as Zuma, the upscale Japanese restaurant in London.
Vivanta by Taj President, Cuffe Parade. Tel: 022 6665 0808. Open daily, from 6pm to 1am.
BEST FOR A MEAL
Our favourite type of Mumbai bar is one that allows us to converse and this is such a place. The service is prompt and polite, both the music and crowd is eclectic and the drinks well mixed; we’ve never been disappointed by the sangria. Get their lamb sliders, fries and, if you manage to snag a table, their excellent eight-hour braised lamb papardelle.
Mathuradas Mills Compound, N. M. Joshi Marg, Lower Parel. Tel: 022 2490 2065. Open daily, from 7.30am to 1.30am.
The drinks at this Bandra pub are not particularly cheap, but they have gathered a loyal following thanks to their comfort food and casual atmosphere. Shorts and flip flops are allowed, as is lingering. Grab a Bira and anything on the menu with bacon or buff.
Shop No.6, Silver Croft Building, on the junction of 16th Road and 33rd Road, Pali Naka, Bandra (West). Tel: 022 2600 2637. Open daily, from noon to 1am.
Rare is the bar at which we feel like ordering everything on the food and drink menu. At Lima, UK-based Indian chef Atul Kochhar‘s decidedly pricey Peruvian pub, you’ll want to call for multiple rounds of Pisco sours, Micheladas, sea bass ceviche, tuna tiradito and yucca chips.
Maker Maxity, North Avenue 2, in the same complex as Le Pain Quotidian, Bandra Kurla Complex, Bandra (East). Tel: 022 3000 5040. Open daily, from 6pm to 12.30am.
When an outpost of the Bangalore gastropub opened here in May 2015, it was an instant hit with revellers. Months after, it continues to pack the crowds thanks to the great food (kheema bao, MoBar burger), cocktails (Mangaa, Copper Monkey) and pricing.
Summerville, Junction of 14th Road and 33rd Road, off Linking Road, Bandra (West). Tel: 022 2600 5215. Open Monday to Friday, from 6pm to 1am; Saturday and Sunday, from noon to 1am.
One Street Over
It was a given that the grub would be great at former Ellipsis chef Kelvin Cheung‘s culinary comeback to our city but the cocktails, helmed by mixologist Arijit Bose, were equally expressive. There’s a whole booklet of house specials in which we’ve mentally highlighted the Spiced Moscow Mule (ginger beer is partnered with vodka and lime) and Whisky Smash (Jim Beam, mint and sweet and sour). As for the food, there’s a surfeit of options, including crisp French beans; the super-creamy burrata; artistically plated date with bacon; salad-like General Tso’s pork.
Ground Floor, Navrang Building, near National College and Hotel Linkway, off Linking Road, Khar. Tel: 022 2600 2224. Open daily, from 6pm to 1.30am.
The Bombay Canteen
The playful tweaks on regional Indian food such as pork taco with thepla, Old Monk gulab jamun and tandoori spare ribs and refreshing cocktails like the Tar-Booze (Absolut, water and pomegranate juice) and Dark Monsoon (Old Monk, ginger ale) won The Bombay Canteen rave reviews. Well into its second year of operation, it’s just as consistent as in the opening months and retained its rightful claim as one of the city’s hippest hangouts.
Unit 1, Process House, near Radio Mirchi, Kamala Mills, Senapati Bapat Marg, Lower Parel. Tel: 022 4966 6666. Open daily, from noon to 1am.
The Good Wife
Siblings Ryan and Keenan Tham, sons of restaurateur Henry Tham, run this restaurant and bar perennially populated with BKC’s working force. On weekdays, they flock here for craft beers (supplied by The White Owl and Gateway Brewing Co.) and the European and East Asian fare and on weekends, to party to a soundtrack of commercial pop and electronic dance music.
Ground Floor, Block G, The Capital, Bandra Kurla Complex, Bandra (East). Tel: 022 4003 9433. Open daily, from noon to 1.30am.
Come here for fine cocktails such as the sparkling wine-enriched Elderflower Cooler and equally sophisticated grub such as the boneless chicken wings, shrimp tacos and tuna tataki.
Ground Floor, Kalapesi Trust Building, opposite Dhanraj Mahal, below Hotel Suba Palace, Apollo Bunder, Colaba. Tel: 022 2282 5001. Open daily, from noon to 1am.
The bar at this BKC dim sum and tea house, from the same stable as Bandra’s Hakkasan, is always buzzing with the chattering of a crowd, the clanging of plates of their fantastic dumplings and clinking of glasses full of their finely-balanced cocktails. Ours is a fixed order of crispy prawn cheung fun, edamame and truffle dumplings and a couple of Cha La Lais (vodka, prosecco, oolong tea, black grapes and apple juice).
First Floor, Raheja Tower, Bandra Kurla Complex, Bandra (East). Tel: 92222 22800. Open daily, from noon to 1am.
BEST FOR A GIG
The new home of popular club night Grime Riot Disco and a bunch of other regular gig series, this Khar basement space has quickly become a contender for the title of the city’s most popular music venue. There are barely any tables to enable maximum standing room and thanks to the efficient air-conditioning, it doesn’t get stuffy even when it’s packed.
Rohan Plaza, 5th Road, near Ramee Guest Line Hotel, S. V. Road, Khar. Tel: 022 6522 6324. Follow the Facebook page for updates on gigs.
Widely regarded as the country’s best music venue, Blue Frog will move out of its Lower Parel location at the end of this month, which means there are just a few weeks left to catch a show at the club where the distinct décor of circular ‘pods’ and round bumps on the walls were built to optimise the viewing and listening experience. Pair your next gig with a wasabi Bloody Mary or better yet, add to your collection of megafrogs, their supersized cocktails served in sipper bottles.
Mathuradas Mills Compound, Tulsi Pipe Road, Lower Parel. Tel: 022 6158 6158. Open daily, from 6.30pm to 1.30am.
The de facto heir to former Bandra hipster hangout Zenzi, rooftop bar Bonobo is where the city’s independent musicians, filmmakers, artists and even a few journalists can occasionally be spotted sipping on a craft beer or catching an electronica gig.
Second Floor, Kenilworth Mall, Phase 2, off Linking Road, Behind KFC, Bandra (West). Tel: 022 2605 5050. Open daily, from 6pm to 1am.
Hard Rock Café
The Mumbai outposts of what is arguably the world’s best-known theme bar are most popular with the corporate crowd, who like to relive their college days with the retro playlist and cover bands that usually soundtrack the chain. Once a week though the HRCs in Worli and Andheri host indie bands whose sounds can range from alternative rock to folk-fusion to even metal. The American-sized portions help you get value for the money you pay as cover charge.
Bombay Dyeing Mills Compound, Pandurang Budhkar Marg, Worli. Tel: 022 2438 2888. Sharyans Audeus, Ground Floor, diagonally opposite Yashraj Studios, Fun Republic Cinema lane, Andheri (West). Tel: 022 2674 3901. Open daily, noon to 1.30am.
Upcoming singer-songwriters and bands in the city got a new incubator with the opening of this café with a unique business model. Talent is paid with free recording time in the attached studio, which is also where you will find the drummer during a gig, because the stage is too small to accommodate a full kit. The café can seat about 50 people but Tuning Fork appears to have something more valuable than size: an audience that comes to listen. Plus they serve Bira on tap.
First Floor, Hotel Unicontinental, Third Road, near Khar Railway Station, Khar. Tel: 98333 58492. Follow the Facebook page for updates on gigs.
BEST FOR A SINGALONG NOSTALGIA TRIP
It may have become a tourist trap over the years, but there’s still something special about sipping a cold beer surrounded by Mario Miranda’s murals of Mumbai and listening to classic hits playing from a jukebox. We’d even come for breakfast.
5A, Metro House, Shahid Bhagat Singh Road, Colaba, Tel: 022 2202 0591. Open daily, from 7.30pm to 1.30am.
This is where Andheri’s hipsters congregate for a dink, either in the mosaic-tiled al fresco section or the vintage-themed indoor area where there is a jukebox loaded with 1980s and ’90s compilations. Order the watermelon Bloody Mary, slip in your favourite Now That’s What I Call Music CD and you’re set for a night of old and new memories.
Aram Nagar 2, behind Washing Bay, Yari Road, Versova, Andheri (West). Tel: 022 2635 8880. Open daily, from 9am to 1am.
An entire generation has spent their after-hours lives at this long-running Breach Candy bar where house activities include singing along to the never-changing retro playlist (‘Light My Fire’, ‘Smoke On The Water’), playing a round of pool, munching on unlimited servings of free popcorn, scribbling graffiti on the multi-coloured, mural-covered walls and being bathed in fluorescent blue light.
30B Bhulabhai Desai Marg, Breach Candy, near the Mahalaxmi Temple, opposite Tirupati Apartments. Tel: 022 2353 8418. Open daily, from 7pm to 1.30am.
Three Wise Men
This suburban pub has become a local haunt on the strength of its retro playlist and popular English and Hindi karaoke sessions that are held every Monday and Thursday respectively. Go even if you can’t hold a note and get swept away by the infectious fervour of karaoke zealots.
Shop No.123, Sujata Rajpipla Building, opposite Santa Cruz Police Station, Santa Cruz (West). Tel: 022 3996 7657. Open daily, from 5pm to 1.30am.*
*Three Wise Men is temporarily closed and slated to reopen this month.
With number plates on the walls, a VW Beetle above the bar and a classic rock playlist, Toto’s, which has been around since 1992, is the city’s original theme pub. Perfect for a pint and some chilli chicken, it’s best to get here early before it gets packed with regulars.
30, Lourdes Heaven, 30th Road, Pali Naka, Bandra (West). Tel: 022 2600 5494. Open daily, from 6pm to 1am.
BARS FOR WHEN YOU’RE BROKE
A charming Irani cafe and bar in Fort, Universal offers a cheap and cheerful menu of beer, sandwiches, sizzlers, steaks and tandoori items. We’re partial to their old-school burgers and cheese balls.
299 Shahid Bhagat Singh Road, Adi Marzban Path, Ballard Estate, Fort. Tel: 022 2261 3985. Open daily, from 9.30am to 11.30am.
The chain of bars, that doubles up as a co-working space, is the among the handful of places where you can get a few drinks and a satisfying meal without breaking the budget. Options include the anda shammi pao, butter chicken biryani or Caesar salad.
Ground Floor, Glen Rose Building, Behind Taj Mahal Palace, Apollo Bunder, Colaba. Tel: 022 2282 8484. Near Viva Centre and Cafe Zoe, Mathuradas Mill Compound, Lower Parel. Tel: 022 6511 0361. Level 3, Palladium Mall, 462 Senapati Bapat Marg, Lower Parel. Tel: 022 6511 4459. Rohan Plaza, 5th Road, near Ramee Guest Line Hotel, S. V. Road, Khar. Ground Floor, The Capital, G Block, Bandra Kurla Complex, Bandra (East). Tel: 022 6451 9333. Same building as Fun Republic cinema, off New Link Road, Andheri (West). Tel: 022 6022 6044. Open daily, from 9am to 1am.
The Bar Stock Exchange
If they gave awards for Best Concept Bar, we’re sure BSE would win hands down. Prices start at a base point (as low as Rs17 for a peg of Old Monk) and go up and down depending on demand. In an expensive city like ours that can only mean a full house every night.
89, Shivani Industrial Estate, opposite Times Square, Saki Naka, Andheri (East). Tel: 022 2850 1214. First Floor, Club House Equinox Business Park, Kurla. Tel: 022 6900 0146. 28, Ground Floor, Meera CHS, Oshiwara Link Road, Oshiwara, Andheri (West). Tel: 022 3015 1092. Third Floor, Kenilworth Mall, in the same building as KFC and Bonobo, off Linking Road, Bandra (West). Tel: 022 2600 8833. Hotel Apollo, Lansdowne Road, behind Regal Cinema, Colaba. Tel: 022 2281 9898. C Wing, Trade World, Kamala Mills Compound, Senapati Bapat Marg, Lower Parel. Tel: 022 2492 5556. Open daily, from 6pm to 1.30am.
BEST FOR PEOPLE WATCHING
At the seductively lit Ling Ling Lounge, which is what the fine-dining Chinese restaurant’s bar is called, your chances of rubbing elbows with Bollywood A-listers are pretty high. The moody blue lighting and booths with lattice screens grants the celebrities some amount of anonymity. The bar’s premium cocktails like the tropical Hakka (vodka, sake, lychee juice, lime, coconut and passion fruit), spice-infused Chilli San (cardamom, pineapple, rum, chilli and lemon) and tart kumquat mojito (lime, mint, orange juice and rum) are stars in their own right.
Second Floor, Krystal Building, Waterfield Road, Bandra (West). Tel: 022 2644 4444. Open daily, from noon to 4pm and from 7pm to 1am.
Olive Bar and Kitchen
On a Thursday night, the Khar bar and restaurant is almost as crammed with models as the opening day of fashion week. Their mid-week soiree during which you will occasionally spot a Bollywood upstart has been Olive’s claim to fame for over a decade.
Le Sutra, near Out of the Blue, Nargis Dutt Road, Union Park, Khar. Tel: 022 4340 8229. Open daily, from 12.30pm to 3.30pm and from 7.30pm to 1am.
The Elbo Room
The al fresco section of this bar, a frequent hangout of advertising and show business types, is a pleasant drinking spot in cool weather. It’s also easier to have a conversation outside than inside the small, wood-lined bar where the music is often on full volume.
Sant Kutir Apartments, off Linking Road, Khar. Tel: 022 3381 4258. Open daily, from noon to 1.30am.